Like most North Dakotans, I anxiously wait all winter and spring for summer to arrive. I dream about long days in the sun. Words can’t describe how happy I am now that it has finally arrived!
One of the best things about summer is enjoying something cold, sweet and refreshing. I have been waiting for what seems like forever to make this no-bake, Maqui Berry Cheesecake! One of the great things about this dessert is it is raw and there is no cooking involved, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven in this heat!
I have become a bit of a health nut in recent years, I don’t like to use a lot of refined sugar, un-healthy fats or even dairy in desserts. These days I try to use fruit to naturally sweeten things, only adding a tiny bit of sweeter if I have to. I have spent quite a bit of time researching clean, low sugar, dairy free desserts and eventually entered into a whole world of raw, vegan ‘baking’ that I never even knew existed! Basically, this means that you don’t include dairy or eggs (hence, Vegan). Vegan desserts are insanely delicious and surprisingly easy to make because there is no cooking involved. Another great thing about this recipe is that it is paleo – so its perfect if you don’t eat grains or dairy!
This Maqui Berry Cheesecake is inspired by so many different types of raw vegan cheesecakes that I have made in the past. I love the combination of raspberries and chocolate, so naturally my cheesecake evolved into the recipe you see below with the addition of freeze dried Maqui Berry.
What is Maqui?
I am always trying to boost the nutritional value of everything I make with superfoods or adaptogens, which is why I decided to add freeze dried Maqui powder – to get an extra dose of antioxidants. The Maqui berry has numerous health benefits and contains the highest amount of antioxidant value of any known food. In fact, research has shown that Maqui contains between 4 – 30 times the antioxidant value of other super fruits such as acai, goji and pomegranate based on the ORAC system (used to value antioxidant levels in food).*
If you are interested in learning more about Maqui or are interested in purchasing some, I recommend Navitas Naturals. If you don’t have Maqui powder or can’t find it, any freeze dried berry powder will work, or just simply omit it from the recipe. Just don’t call it Maqui Berry Cheesecake!
The base of this cheesecake is made with cashews. You will need to soak the cashews in a large bowl of water for at least 2 – 3 hours. The main reason for this is that you want to make them nice and soft so that they will puree smoothly, but the added bonus is that you are also sprouting the cashews! Win!
After your cashews have been soaking for a while, go ahead and get started on the crust. The crust is made up of only three ingredients: Hazelnuts, Cocoa and Dates! How easy is that? I particularly like to dry roast the hazelnuts in a hot oven for about 10 minutes or so before using. I love the roasted nutty flavor and it also helps to get the outer shells off. However, if you want to stick with making your cake 100% raw, you can omit this step.
To make the crust, start by pulsing the nuts in the food processor until they are finely chopped and grain sized. Add the dates (pits removed) and cocoa and continue pulsing. Depending on how fresh your dates are, you may need to add a teaspoon of water or two. I added 2 t. to mine just to get it going, but don’t be tempted to overdo it. Once your ingredients are fully incorporated, it will ball up and start to stick together. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, press the mixture onto the bottom of a 6-9″ spring form pan in an even layer. Transfer to the fridge to begin letting it set.
The actual cheesecake base is just a matter of blending together the soaked cashews (after draining and rinsing first), berries and other remaining ingredients. The beet root powder is purely optional. Truth be told, I like to add a little to make the color more vibrant. After all the ingredients are blended together, just pour it on top of the crust and place it back in the fridge for a few hours to set or in the freezer if you’re in a time crunch. It is equally good, if not better, served frozen with fresh berries, especially on a hot summer day!
- 1 C. Dates
- 1 C. Hazelnuts, toasted* Optional
- 2 T. Cocoa
- 2 t. Water
- 2 C. Cashews, soaked + Drained
- 2 C. Raspberries or Blackberries
- 1T. Lemon Juice
- 2 T. Coconut Nectar*
- 2 T. Rice Milk, or dairy alternative
- 2 T. Maqui Berry Powder
- 1 T. Beet Root Powder * Optional
- Pulse in a food processor the hazelnuts until they are finely chopped. Add the dates, cocoa powder and water and continue to blend until they are fully combined and begin to stick together. Using a small spatula, scoop out the crust and press into the bottom of a 7" spring form pan in an even layer. Transfer the pan with crust to a refrigerator to begin letting it set and harden.
- After the cashews have been soaking for a couple of hours, rinse and drain in a colander. Transfer to a blender along with the fresh raspberries, lemon juice, coconut nectar, rice milk, maqui berry powder and beet root powder. Puree until smooth. Take the springform pan out of refrigerator and pour it on top of the crust. Transfer to the fridge or to the freezer to let it harden for a few hours. Serve chilled with fresh berries and coconut flakes.
I used a 7" spring form pan, but any size between 6 - 9" will work. If you do use a small size, there may be extra cheesecake mix, you can easily pour it into small ramekins and chill until set.